Death toll rises to 53 in Kabul classroom bombing

Mostly girls and young women were killed in the blast

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A total of 53 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a Kabul education centre last week, the UN has said.

At least 46 of the dead were girls and young women, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan tweeted.

A further 110 people were injured in the explosion on Friday, it said.

Students at the Kaj Educational Centre, in the capital's Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood, were taking mock tests in preparation for university entrance exams when the attack took place.

Photos taken just before the blast showed hundreds of students at the scene.

The predominantly Shiite district is home to the minority Hazara community, who have been the target of some of Afghanistan's most brutal attacks in recent years.

Protesters, mostly women, demonstrated in a number of cities after the explosion, reiterating their right to an education and condemning persecution of the Hazara.

Unverified footage on social media purportedly showed female students locked in their dorms at Balkh University, in the northern province of Balkh, after holding a protest.

Women's protests have become risky since the Taliban returned to power in August last year, with numerous demonstrators detained and rallies broken up by the militant group's security forces firing shots in the air.

Since Friday's attack, “Stop the Hazara genocide” has been trending on Twitter.

More than 700 people have been killed in 13 attacks against the community in the past year, mostly at the hands of ISIS, Human Rights Watch said last month.

It criticised the Taliban, which has also persecuted the minority, for its failure to protect the Hazara community.

“The issue isn’t that the Taliban is responsible for the violence. They’re responsible for not providing adequate security to their own people,” said Human Rights Watch Asia advocacy director John Sifton.

Dasht-e-Barchi has been attacked multiple times in recent years.

Six people were killed at a high school in the area in April.

In May last year, at least 85 people — mainly girls — were killed and about 300 were wounded when three bombs exploded near a school in the neighbourhood.

Updated: October 03, 2022, 1:47 PM